The final countdown

Now the bit I enjoy most, watching the hopes of many dashed as the final jerseys points get allocated.

Polka Dot Jersey
The first of the jerseys to have points allocated will be the Polka Dot or mountains jersey. No change at the top with TMV4 looking a bit vulnerable. A general reshuffling below with big movers into the top 10. Big winner in the polka dots was Mitchell  Johnson who has made no 3 in the batting order. Where did Rusty Dog disappear to? He was looking strong, and suddenly got swamped with Heartthrobs 04 hitting the bottom.

Ranked scores after stage PD
Rank Prev Direction Player Score
1 1 TMV4 1393
2 2 Italian Chris 1337
3 20 ↑17 Mitchell Johnson 1309
4 4 Sicknote 4 1267
5 3 ↓2 Giant Scott 1261
6 21 ↑15 Kelsey Machine 1236
7 5 ↓2 Isabelle the Princess of Goulburn 1231
8 23 ↑15 Sara Green Machine 1219
9 25 ↑16 Safari Mkubwa 1194
10 9 ↓1 Fat lasses at the Back 2 1175
308 306 ↓2 Mrs Green Machine 269
309 308 ↓1 Sicknote 1 238
310 310 Rollie 228
311 309 ↓2 Dungeon Master 223
312 311 ↓1 Heartthrobs04 203

Green Jersey

On to the Green jersey points. Finally a change at the top, with Sicknote 4 making a 2nd foray to the top end of the table. A lot of the usual suspects of the last 3 weeks hanging around. Three new entries into the top 10 with Gus Gilmour, Grandma Rebel and TheBehms all making a play for the top! Rusty Dog slips back into the bottom 5 but the teams below him remain strong, not moving a place.

Ranked scores after stage G
Rank Prev Direction Player Score
1 4 ↑3 Sicknote 4 1441
2 1 ↓1 TMV4 1429
3 7 ↑4 Isabelle the Princess of Goulburn 1409
4 2 ↓2 Italian Chris 1389
5 3 ↓2 Mitchell Johnson 1361
6 8 ↑2 Sara Green Machine 1329
7 19 ↑12 Gus Gilmour 1322
8 24 ↑16 Grandma Rebel 1294
9 14 ↑5 TheBehms 1290
10 6 ↓4 Kelsey Machine 1288
308 307 ↓1 Rusty Dog 290
309 309 Sicknote 1 238
310 310 Rollie 228
311 311 Dungeon Master 223
312 312 Heartthrobs04 203

Yellow Jersey

Now the big one, with points allocated for the top 20. This is the jersey that normally has the biggest effect on the competition. Coming up on the rails, from absolutely nowhere, is Gaz, up 24 points. I guess it helps having Thomas and Bernal in your team. First prize goes to Gaz. In fact there was a pattern, with Send in the clowns up 16 to 2nd courtesy of Bernal and Kruijswijk. Then Safari Mkubwa, up a massive 20 places, again thanks to Bernal.  Some other huge movers into the top 10, the biggest being Mark Ella, up 34 places, but just falls short of the prizes in 8th.  At the bottom there is no movement so the prize money goes to the bottom 5.

Ranked scores after stage Y
Rank Prev Direction Player Score
1 25 ↑24 Gaz 1871
2 18 ↑16 Send in the Clowns 1870
3 23 ↑20 Safari Mkubwa 1790
4 10 ↑6 Kelsey Machine 1688
5 15 ↑10 Spartacus 1671
6 27 ↑21 Castlemaine Cycling Collective 1 1658
7 13 ↑6 Chuck Charity 1 1657
8 42 ↑34 Mark Ella 1640
9 28 ↑19 Gobi 1612
10 3 ↓7 Isabelle the Princess of Goulburn 1609
308 308 Rusty Dog 290
309 309 Sicknote 1 238
310 310 Rollie 228
311 311 Dungeon Master 223
312 312 Heartthrobs04 203

Team Prize

The team prize is allocated to the lowest time of each teams top 3 riders. This years winner, making up for missing out in the final standings, goes to Mark Ella, outdoing Gobi by 3 minutes and Spartacus 2 in 3rd.

Mark Ella 249:18:24 (Thomas, Alaphilippe, Martin)
Gobi 249:21:51 (Thomas, Barguil, Martin)
Spartacus 2 249:22:43 (Alaphilippe, Quintana, Martin)
Purdleton 249:23:41 (Thomas, Barguil, Gaudu)
The Matador 2 249:37:00 (Bernal, Kruijswijk, Reichenbach)

Many thanks to everyone for taking part. It’s all about the charity and the fun, so thanks for allowing me to entertain myself, and hopefully make a small difference in the lives of a few children.

A note will follow with the prize money allocations. If anyone is interested in a more detailed analysis I can send you the spreadsheet!

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Stage 21 – Colombian Bernal takes White and wins Yellow

Nothing like a good stereotype to get the creative juices flowing. First of all apologies for the lateness of the report. The stage finished late here in France and I could not be rude and desert my hosts, and my wine, to write a report. Not sure who watched the final stage but it was a perfect end to a fantastic tour as the late evening light washed over the monuments of Paris. The cobbles of the Champs-Élysées looked to be paved in gold, which they were, metaphorically , for Egan Bernal, as he secured his, and Colombia’s first ever Maillot Jeune.

The stage followed the usual script of champagne, media stuff, arrive in Paris, small break goes, sprinters bring it back on the last lap, classic Champs-Élysées sprint. Ewan was the form sprinter coming into the final stage, so it all depended on how he got through the mountains. Maybe the shortening of the previous 2 mountain stages saved his legs. Plus I read that Lotto sent 6 guys back to him when he was struggling in the Pyrenees, on a day when he could have been out of the Tour. I wonder how much that changed his mindset as he won every sprint from that point, including the sprinters world championship in Paris. I had my money on Viviani, but I suspect the work DQS did for Alaphilippe took it’s toll on the team. Dylan Groenewegen already know how to win here, and it was a dramatic arial view with both him and Ewan sweeping past the 3 front guys, one on the left and one on the right, to dive for the line. Once again Ewan got the better of the Cloggie. Matthews was unlucky getting a mechanical with 10km to go. He got back on, but that effort took the sting out of his sprint.

Some observations on my part.

Alaphilippe was the one of the French heros in this edition. 2 stage wins, and 14 days in Yellow. He battled every day in the Alps, but in the end was found wanting, but he secured the most combative prize to get his spot on the podium.

The Tour was over when Thibaut Pinot climbed off his bike. To me he looked to be the only one to offer a challenge to the Ineos duo. A super stage win, and the respect of cycling fans around the world were his rewards.

Thomas was all class in handing the mantel to his young teammate. Bernal acknowledged him on the podium saying “Thanks to G for the opportunity”. I wonder if G just felt he didn’t quite have the form and was vulnerable to being attacked by the riders a few seconds behind him. Sending Bernal up the road on the way to Tignes, ensured that Ineos would win, and ensured him of a podium place in the end.

Bernal is looking to be the dominant rider of the next few years, and he is only 22. Had the stage to Tignes not been cancelled he would probably have won alone at the top of the climb, and possibly had enough points to win the mountains classification as well. It is going to be interesting if Froome comes back, to see what Ineos do, with 3 bona fides team leaders, all Tour de France winners.

Breaking down the stages, big winners were Michelton Scott, Jumbo Visma and Lotto all with 4 stage wins each. Jumbo also had Kruijswijk on the podium. Michelton need to think about which Yates twin might be the best for the Tour de France. DQS had 3 stage wins, Yellow jersey for 14 days and the most combative rider prize. Bahrain 2 stages, which has to be seen as a bonus. I would have expected nothing from them based on the inner tormoils of the team. A fitting end to Nibali’s career maybe? Bora, 1 stage, green Jersey and an emerging Buchmann in 4th place. FDJ and Movistar 1 stage each with the latter getting the team prize. They really need to come into the tour with a better strategy, although the two pronged attack works for Ineos. Maybe there is too much Spanish hot-headed stuff going on.

Ineos came away with 2 jerseys, Yellow and White to Bernal and a 1:2 on the podium and officially did not win a stage. Although Bernal was robbed by the French weather gods saving Alaphilippe on the road to Tignes.

Enough rambling. As we do the final stage counts in the comp we see no change in the top 3. However I expect that to change when I tally the jersey points. Big mover in the top 20, making a push for the top is Spartacus, up 15 places to 16th. Big mover, up 55 places, is The Green Machine, to sit mid table with little chance of anything other than a mention in my report. No change in the bottom 5 as Rusty Dog holds firm. Looking at his team, I think he might have sewn up the lantern rouge, but we will know that tomorrow…

 

Stage 20 – French conspiracy can’t stop Ineos

There were rumours that the tears of the French fans when Pinot abandoned, caused the snow and hail storm that saw the finish of yesterdays reduced. The shortening of the stage had some advantages to the French riders however. Even though the French experts think that Alaphilippe could have got back on on the descent, he was not making ground up on Bernal, and in the end he would have lost another 2 or 3 minutes on the final climb to Tignes. Not doing the climb allowed him to stay in contention for the podium. He missed out on that today but managed to hold on to 5th place, which is a fantastic result. If Bernal had managed to win in Tignes yesterday he would have had enough points to take the KOM jersey. As such Bardet won that by a mere 8 points, thanks to the lack of points yesterday.

Joking aside, what a race. The French were certainly not invisible this year with Alaphilippe in yellow for most of the race and Pinot animating in the Pyrenees. Alaphilippe’s courage for the fight was brilliant to watch. But in the end most of the spoils go to other nations. Bernal takes Colombia’s first ever Tour de France victory, barring disaster tomorrow. Thomas makes it a Ineos 1:2. Kruijswijk and Jumbo Visma tried to animate the stage and make it hard, but they could not shake the Ineos pair. But their tour was hardly a failure with 4 stage wins so far. Movistar on the other hand, came in with their usual confusing plan, and came away with the consolation of the team prize, a prize they win a lot, but no one remembers. Nibbles won the stage to salvage something for his efforts in the final week.

I think I got dropped today, much like Alaphilippe, struggling to find the words.

Small change in the comp with TMV4 back on top withe the usual suspects sniffing around as we get close to the final countdown. 2 big movers into the top 20 today with Isabelle the Princess of Goulbourn and Cat Six 2 both breaking into the top 20 with jumps of 16 places. Big mover mention goes to Fat Lasses at the Back 1, up 105 places to go from nowhere to somewhere just north of nowhere. No change at the botom with Rusty Dog holding a firm grip on the Lantern Rouge.

Roll on tomorrow and Caleb Ewans 3rd victory, unless Groenewegen can stop him.

Stormy day for the French

What started out bad for the French, only got worse. The real animator in the race, Thibault Pinot, abandoned due to an issue with his thigh. It was sad watching him lose time, and then eventually climb off in tears. This was probably his best chance of winning, especially with the form he was in, and the race being wide open for the first time in years. But then things got worse as the old one-two from Ineos put Alaphilippe into trouble. G went first, and then Bernal went, and it was the young Colombian who opened a 2 minute gap by the top of the L’Iseran. You would put money on Alaphilippe getting some of that time back on a descent but he did not seem to be making inroads into Bernals lead, plus with teh climb to Tignes still to come you could see that Alaphilippe was likely going to lose a bucket of time.  But in the end it was a moot point. The road to Tignes was rendered impassible due to a storm, with apparent mudslides, so the race organisation were forced to abandon the stage and declare the summit of the L’Iseran as the finish. This is the first time in the tours history that a stage has had to be abandoned. Once in 1996 Barne Riis won a shorted stage, but that was the only other time a stage was shortened. This means that Bernal gets his first stage win (not), although without being able to celebrate it, but he also wiped out Alaphilippes lead, and put time into Thomas, giving him the Yellow Jersey, which I doubt he will lose before Paris. But it should make for an exciting stage tomorrow night to Val Thorens, as long as it doesn’t snow…

I just heard that no stage winner was given for the stage, so they effectively robbed Bernal of a possible stage win, but what else could the organisers do?

July 26th has been a national day of mourning in France.

However in the tipping comp we can’t let a nullified stage result stop us. So I went with the provisional results over the top of the L’Iseran to calculate today’s points. They may not have been totally correct, although you would hope they were with a lot of mountain points on offer. As it turned out, it made no difference to the top 5 positions, with Italian Chris hanging on. Big mover into the top 20 was marker, up 11 to hit 20th spot. Big mover today was Chuck Charity 1 up 78 places. At the bottom Rusty Dog snatches the Lantern Rouge spot with Puffy moving up 10 places for some inexplicable reason.

Stage 18 – Bardet sur point, Quintana helps contract negotiations

I am thinking that Alaphilippe might actually have a small chance. What a courageous ride over 3 huge climbs. He was of course found wanting at the top of the Galibier. But what was Thomas thinking? Did they really think that Alaphilippe would not manage to descend back to them? Pinot and Thomas are not actually known for their expertise going downhill. Ineos tried some things though, sending Bernal up the road, gaining time over the finish line on everyone, including his alleged team leader Thomas. But Alaphilippe lost nothing really. Tomorrow may be a different story, but looking at the profile, they need to attack him further from the finish.

Bardet finally got the conciliation prize of the mountain jersey, and a stint on the podium, after a torrid 2 weeks. He was my pick for the Yellow, so this is some conciliation. French riders in Yellow and mountains jerseys, a good day for the French.

Interesting developments overnight with the lovable Tony Martin and pom Luke Rowe being ejected for having a crack at each other. A bit harsh I think. But 2 of the strongest teams lose a rider each, conspiracy theory, this helps Alaphilippe and Pinot with one less rider in Jumbo and Ineos…

Once again Italian Chris comes good thanks to Damiano Caruso, he keeps hanging in there. Top 3 stay the same. Big movers into the top 20 are John Sattler and Evil Pony both up 10 places to break into the top 20. Big mover, up a huge 102 spots was Cat Six 1, to slip into a challenging 150th spot. Puffy is at the bottom, nuff said… There are some challengers, laughable really.

 

Stage 17 -A bridge too far for Asgreen as Trentin gets a Gap

Four stages to go and I think I am tiring. Struggled today to find inspiration for a headline in the lounge at Heathrow, but the good news was I got to see the final 12km. It looked to be the classic pre-mountain stage with everyone with skin in the game keeping their powder dry for the three difficult days ahead. I was lucky enough to watch classic Thomas de Ghent in action straight after the start. 2km in and he went to the front and just seemed to be riding his bike. No big effort to break away. But you could see the hurt on the faces behind him as various riders legs said no, and they pulled out of the line. Eventually the gap on the way to Gap opened and the break-away was formed.

Trentin attacked at the foot of the last climb and no one could go with him. His finish line was the top of the climb. If he got there he would solo to victory. And so it was. Asgreen, the newbie on the block, having an excellent first tour, jumped with 1km to go, as that is all he knew he had in his legs, but it was too much. Trentin was too strong, and took one of the rare solo victories that sprinters hardly ever get to experience.

You need luck in the tour and you need luck in the tipping comp. Italian Chris seems to have it in spades at the moment, as Trentin was in his team. So after hanging on for 2 days scrapping for a few points, he has extended his lead. Funny how fantasy mimics reality. Giant Scott hangs on to 2nd and TMV4 slips back into 3rd. Big mover into the top 20 was Boab #5, up 12 places to 11th thanks to Trentin and Wellens. Special mention to Fat Lasses at the Back with 3 teams in the top 20, ready to mount a charge for the top in the coming days no doubt. Big mover mention goes to Mama I.C.E up 96 spots, a new comer to the mention club. But a special mention goes to Orange Cycle Lady 3 up 92 places. Mainly because she has finally achieved a lifes goal and touched Peter Sagan. She is currently in France, but after that incident she might be here longer than expected as he heads to court to take out a staking retraining order. Puffy is back, need I say more. Can’t keep a useless team down, as he makes a final push for the Lantern Rouge, and looking at his team, he is now favourite for the bottom spot in Paris.

Stage 16 – Door opens for Porte as Fuglsang sings the black and blues

Apologies for the drop in the quality of the cheesy headlines of the last few days as I cannot wait for Killing Spree to come to my rescue, due to timezone constraints. Although, not too unhappy with today’s effort after a 17 hour flight. I even managed to find the  tour on ITV4 so got to watch the last hour.

Suspect the report will be quite short today, the usual break goes, sprint teams control, break gets caught, sprint and Bosh! I read an interesting report about how the big teams control the front of the peloton to ensure the “right” break goes away, especially on a flat stage. They don’t want too many, maybe 4 or 5, cos they will run out of energy. Therefore that break should not consist of Tony Martin, Thomas de Ghent or Adam Hansen, to ensure catching them when they want to. It was interesting how vigorously the teams will actively block the road to stop anyone else getting across once they are happy with the composition of the break. I have been following the tour and cycling since the mid 70s, getting a 5 minute weekly recap of the Tour on Grandstand on a saturday, or reading Cycling Weekly. I have know that there has always been blocking tactics, but was interested to hear that Jim Ochowicz of CCC said he was surprised that blocking tactics went on? WTF Jim, how long have you been involved in cycling? Maybe that is why you haven’t won very much!

And so it was, what I said earlier, last KM and Bosh! The usual good lead out from Richeze from Quickstep, opens the door for Viviani, but Ewan started earlier and was already up to full pace. He blew past Sagan and Viviani to prove he is the form sprinter in this years tour, taking 2 stages, each one right after the rest days. If only there was a rest day before the final sprint into Paris, oh, and there wasn’t 3 monstrous days in the alps to possibly hamper the sprinters from actually getting there!

Richie benefited from another crash from Fuglsang to move into the top 10. Unusual it was not Richie crashing. G hit the deck, which is not that unusual, but didn’t look that bad.

Somehow Italian Chris has held on once again to retain top spot, but with 100 points separating the top 10 this is the closest finish the tipping comp has had I think. Giant Scott holds on to 2nd place, with newcomer Scomonabike slipping into the top 3. No real big mover into the top 20 today with a lot of single digit movers, with Sicknote 4 the best of them, up a measly 6 places. In fact there were not a lot of really big movers in the comp, with the biggest being JCB Digger up 49 places. Puffy is off the bottom, only to be replaced by ESCC compatriot Pedro Bartoli, ensuring they get 3 mentions once again.

Tour serves up feast as Yates beats, Pinot sizzles, Ala folds and G stirs!

This is turning into one of the best tours in years. With Ineos, without the climbing firepower they normally have there is very little control in the race. What that brings is old school attacking riding from the 80s. Appropriate that the French are doing well as it was the last Frenchman who won, Hinault, who rode in this manner. Maybe, on reflection I do know what I am talking about! Suck on that Tommo! Year of the French, tick, Alaphilippe will crack, tick. Although it was a small crack, only losing the time gains he made the day before. He still has a 1:35 lead on Thomas going into the 2nd rest day. Pinot was the strongest again with some solid attacking, but Chapeaux to David Gaudu who has set it up for Pinot 2 days in a row, with some amazing pulling on the front. G spotted the chink in Alaphilippes yellow jersey and with the human coat-hanger, Kruijswijk, they jumped away to claw back a few precious seconds. Bernal got a few seconds back on G, to keep Ineos’s 2 pronged attack intact. But what is great is that 2nd through to 6th are only separated by 39 seconds. This race is wide open, or will be once Alaphilippe cracks in the Alpes, and crack he will. It does pain me to say that though. I would love to see the exciting Frenchman hang on to Paris, but right now it looks like Pinot is the one the French need to turn to to end the drought.

Of the others, Richie had the best ride getting some time back on Uran and Fuglsang to sit in 11th. maybe he can scramble for a top 5 spot over the 3 big days in the Alpes. But he will need a few of the guys ahead of him to have really bad days.

2nd rest day mean prizes and a redraw. Italian Chris just manages to hang on to top spot and $30 from a fast finishing Giant Scott who moves into 2nd place and $20. TMV4 drops a place but gets the final prize of $10. Big mover into the top 20 today was Fattboi, up 8 places to 13th. Biggest mover, and getting his 2nd biggest mover mention in just a few days was The Trab, up 73 places thanks to Yates and Landa. Puffy hangs on to the cellar dweller tag, but week one Lantern Rouge, Merrill Bani, is making another challenge for the bottom spot. Killing Spree gets kudos again for the tasty headline, ensuring a hat trick of mentions for the ESCC boys.

Today is also the 2nd rest day redraw. There will be a note out once I have cooked the books. I fly to Europe and France tonight. On the rest day so that you don’t miss out on my reporting. We are so lucky in Perth as this is the best place to watch the Tour in the world. I will not get to see the tour for the 2 days I am in the UK as I don’t believe it is on free TV, and when in France on Thursday and Friday I will be at work while they are racing. No stage finish in Paris over the weekend either as I will be in the west. Bad planning on my part…

Stage 14 – Vintage Pinot barrels to victory on Tourmalet, Yellow-philippe fortifies overall lead.

OK, let’s be honest here, I obviously don’t have a clue about cycling. Apologies to Tommo and Macca for doubting their expert opinions. Who would have thought that Alaphilippe would not only hang on to yellow, but put time into Thomas as well. The only thing I seem to have got right so far this tour, is my statement that it is going to be the year of the French. Especially with Pinot taking the stage last night, and Alaphilippe taking 2nd place and putting another 30 seconds into G. It has been the best Tour for the French in decades already, and we are not finished yet!

It was a bad afternoon for many GC contenders. My pick Bardet lost 20 minutes, all he has left now is stage wins, if he even stays in the tour. Adam Yates lost nearly 7 minutes, Richie Porte lost a mere 2 minutes, but with his other loses his push for the podium is over. Kruijswijk is looking good right now, as he is in the box seat if Thomas cracks. I expect some more fireworks tonight.

Another day of no change at the top with Italian Chris, TMV4 and Snicko 5 maintaining the status quo. Big mover into the top 20 was Cat Six 2 up 16 to beak into the top 20. Last nights big mover was Nice Package, up 65 places. Puffy is back to his best and has taken the Lantern Rouge spot again. Killing spree gets credit for today’s headline again.

Stage 13 – Ooh LuLu La La!

Once again kudos to Killing Spree for today’s headline. He is on fire. I guess after 12 years of rubbish teams he had to find a new way to get a mention in the report.

Whilst the racing in a TT is not that exciting, watching the clock certainly was. At least until I fell asleep. But luckily I recorded so caught up on the excitement this morning. Thomas de Ghent laid down a great time early on, so was in the hot seat for a couple of hours watching TT specialists come and go. His time was looking to maybe get challenged by this years revelation Wout van Aert, until he clipped a barrier and unfortunately slashed his thigh open. It was an horrific crash, and spelled the end of the Tour for van Aert. It took an hour to stitch him up in hospital. De Ghent’s time was nearly challenged by Richie Porte, who had a good ride, putting time into a number of his opponents. He moved into 15th place, but really needs to do something now in the mountains to challenge for the top 10. Thibault Pinot did a great time to keep himself in the hunt for a podium. But all eyes were on the battle between Thomas and Alaphilippe and by how much Thomas would win by, and how much would Lulu save the yellow jersey by. But the course really suited the Frenchman, especially with some tricky descents that played to his strengths. Thomas was strong, but with the extra couple of percent that the yellow jersey gives you, Alaphilippe won by 14 seconds, to extend his lead in the tour to 1:28.

This was the first French TT win since I am going to guess Laurent Fignon  in the early 90s. The commentators were say Lean-Francois Bernard but I think it might have been Fignon. Either way that is 25+ years ago since a Frenchman won a TT in the Tour!

Of course Tommo and Macca, and every French journo, are now giving Lulu a chance to win the tour. Sorry Macca, I object to you using the words “our expert opinion” when referring to Tommo. I don’t believe Alaphilippe will be in Yellow after tonight’s stage. Although I did not think he could win the TT, but I think the Tourmalet will be a step too far. At least I am in good company. Robbie agreed with me about the TT and Alaphilippe holding on to yellow. So we can both be wrong together.

No change at the top of the table with yesterdays top 3 just holding on. It is close at the top though with the top 6 all within 80 points. Big mover into the top 20 was Snicko 4, to give him a two pronged attack, with Alaphilippe and Buchmann in his team. Some big movers overnight but today’s mention goes to Team LJ. Puffy is making another bid for the basement but Fat Lasses at the back 1, an appropriate name for the Lantern Rouge, held on by a single point.